Around 19 million people in the UK are living below the poverty line, the benchmark set by the EU to help distinguish those in society who struggle to make ends meet every month.

Increasing fuel prices are forcing families to make the choice between paying the bills and eating or driving less miles. Due to the very nature of the problem, this isn’t about those driving for pleasure, rather for work, school and essentials. This is the difference between taking children to school or feeding them.

The ever increasing price

Drivers have mostly accepted that we pay high fuel prices, no one likes it, but for most people, we don’t have a choice. Of course, it would be remiss if we didn’t mention the nearing 80% tax, but that’s not what is at issue here.

In the hours that it has taken to research and write this article, the price per barrel of oil has jumped from $76.98 to $77.73 (currently), and that is the main problem in a nutshell; the rising cost of crude oil.

Defining the ‘why?’ is slightly more difficult. When Donald Trump announced that he was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, the price of a barrel of oil soared by nearly two dollars – historically speaking, a dollar on a barrel equates to around 1 pence per litre at the pump for us. Equally, when the chemical weapon attack on Syria took place, the price of a barrel was $67.11, less than one week later, that had rocketed to $72.58.

Since early 2016, the average price of filling a family car has risen by £11.10 for unleaded and £12.50 for diesel. This extortionate price rise has lead to families having to cut back on spending and implement further measures to keep the car running and also make sure that the bills are paid.

What does this mean for us?

A recent survey carried out by the AA states that 9% of the members polled would have to cut back on the family budget, 15% had decided to drive less, and a further 14% would have to do both, in total 38% of the members would have to adjust their driving/spending habit due to the increase in petrol prices.

In the last month alone, PetrolPrices data shows the mean price has risen from 123.8ppl to 127.6ppl for diesel and 121.2ppl to 124.8 for unleaded, adding around £1.50 to an average 50 litre tank of fuel in just four weeks; pump prices are the highest they’ve been since December 2014, and they look set to stay that way and there is the potential for even more increase.

Supermarkets are doing their best to absorb increases, but the reality is that places like Asda and Tesco are often at the limit of profit, relying on generating volume, and in turn building brand loyalty – fill up with groceries and fuel in one stop, but with prices increasing at such a rate, even they are upping the price at the pump. It typically takes around a fortnight for a rise in the crude oil price to affect pump price, so we may yet still see further increases happen.

What should you do now?

This isn’t a case of taxation or even profiteering, but simple cold facts: The base price of crude oil is rising due to an array of factors beyond anyone’s control, the best we can hope for is stability which could mean a slight reduction in prices.

If you find yourself having to make difficult choices, there are some things that can ease the pain, or stretch out the miles to a tank:
If you already have a PetrolPrices account then you can download the PetrolPrices app to keep you updated on the latest fuel prices while you’re on the road. It has all the filters you need to make sure you find the best fuel near you.

Ensure that your car is operating at peak performance. A 10% drop in tyre pressure can affect the efficiency of the tyre and rolling-resistance, leading to a decrease in MPG. Equally, a dirty air filter can have a dramatic effect on fuel usage – some experts claim that replacing a dirty air filter could improve your mileage by as much as 10%.

Look for supermarkets with a fuel discount voucher when you shop with them – this could be as high as 10 pence per litre – £5 per fill up. While not all supermarkets run these all the time, occasionally the members of reward schemes such as Morrisons More and Nectar cards receive discounts without any announcements.

Lastly, think about your driving style and habits – hard acceleration not only reduces MPG, but it will also increase tyre wear, ‘making progress’ will reduce drivetrain efficiency over time, which already accounts for between 13 – 19% of engine power. Smooth and gentle driving is the key, even if you don’t feel like it!

For some people, public transport may be an alternative but the high prices and sometimes slower journey time prove less effective than taking the car. The story recently of a man who got to London from Bristol for cheaper by car than by a train ticket proved one thing, sometimes a car is more cost effective.

How has the price increase affected you? Do you now need to consider your budget or miles you drive? Can you think of a viable alternative form of transport? Do you think that the Government should consider introducing a temporary tax break on fuel duty?

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